It all started in 1979, when the BMW M535i went into production. Featuring a powerful (for the time) 215 bhp straight-six, Recaro sports seats, a tuned suspension, and a mild iteration of what BMW body kits looked like back then, the result was a practical family sedan with fantastic performance.
While we could go on for days about the mechanicals that made the M535i and subsequent M cars so great, we’re going to focus on how BMW’s Motorsport department excelled (and continue to excel) at bodywork modifications that, while not in the extreme category, do enough to get the pulse racing and set these performance cars apart from their more passive cousins. If you own a non-M BMW and are looking to beef up the bodywork, your research should begin in-house with a look at what BMW does. Thankfully, our performance and styling department have done some of the initial homework for you.
BMW M Wheel Design And Size
A good set of wheels has a dramatic effect on the way your car looks, feels, and performs. As far back as the E34, BMW took a form over function approach to get to the perfect wheel design. This generation of M5 featured the now iconic “M-system”, which made use of directional, bolted-on wheel covers; beneath these were 5-spoke alloys. The goal of the design was to increase cooling by diverting heat from the braking assembly. Initially criticized, the wheel design has stood the test of time.
In many iterations of BMW M, the standard wheel designs have been finished in either a shiny silver or smoky matt, which has worked very well with the inherently sporty stance of BMWs. These are the colors you should look at if upgrading your non-M car. Speak to a technician about the ideal wheel size for a good balance of practicality and visual appeal. You can also select a wheel which is made from lightweight materials like forged aluminum to aid performance.
BMW M Exhausts And Diffusers
Every M car has a special sound which reminds you that you’re driving something unique. By upgrading your exhaust system, your car will look and sound like a different animal. For many years, BMW M have favored the sporty dual exhaust system with the four tail pipes prominently sitting at the rear. Again, notice that BMW haven’t followed Mercedes-Benz and Audi by offering over-the-top pipe sizes at the back, opting instead for four, neatly arranged circular pipes; just the right amount of sportiness.
Diffusers combine well with aggressive exhaust systems, and BMW Motorsport has always done an excellent job of very neatly incorporating these into the design of their M models. While it’s easy to get overexcited when modifying your car, often it just takes a neat job and the right materials (i.e. some nice carbon fiber will do) to completely transform the appearance.
BMW Sports Seats
Think about it: from the outside of most cars, the only view you’re going to get of any of the interior components will be the upper half of the seats. Why not up the appeal with a set of sports front seats that look good and provide more control through the corners? The M boys have really taken their seat designs up a couple of notches over the last few years – just look at the new BMW M5’s sports seats! Your goal with sports seats should be to:
- Try to match the color with the color scheme of your interior
- Look for a seat design with thick side bolsters for added support through corners
- Leather and alcantara is a great combination
M cars also feature several subtle but effective interior enhancements such as different gearlevers, steering wheels, and roof lining materials. All of these features are relatively easy upgrades that will really boost the appeal of your non-M BMW.
Sometimes, The Pros Know Best
While it’s tempting to get inspiration from all kinds of aftermarket modifiers, it can be wise to step into the bodywork styling arena by first looking at the likes of BMW M, Mercedes-AMG, and Audi RS for inspiration. For these guys, the substance is in the details, and that helps to make for a car that’ll turn heads and get you more excited for the daily commute. Chat to us and we’d love to help you create your one-of-a-kind BMW with just the right amount of “M” inspiration.